Symbolyc One and Illmind’s collaboration on Art of One Mind, their first joint-effort LP, allows the two producers to cull together their equally soul-heavy backdrops for a bunker full of emcees and vocalists. It makes for a wide-ranging record. With the occasional rich, harmony-laden choruses from Organic Thoughts, the multiple instances of the Little Brother emcees, and Darien Brockington, Art of One Mind looks back to 2004’s wonderfully constructed Foreign Exchange LP.
Like Foreign Exchange’s Phonte, of Little Brother, and Dutch beat-maker Nicolay, the collaborators here are separated by geography: Illmind’s home is in New Jersey and S1’s digs are in Waco, Texas. Presumably, hip-hop and some common sense kept Symbolyc from joining Waco’s Branch Davidian cult some years back, and he was able to build a decent-sized portfolio of production work, supplying remixes for Slum Village, Ghostface and others. Illmind has also gained some aboveground love from his work making beats for Common and Strange Fruit Project. The team’s skills come together in the fairly consistent Art of One Mind.
Organic Thoughts appear on “The Groove,” one of Art of One Mind‘s finest tracks. Stuttering organ keys and a busy, squealing backdrop follow around catchy, dense harmonies on the chorus before one of the album’s unfortunate chatty throwaway interludes. “Milk ‘Em” features a stinging pop-in from Ghostface, helping to make up for any shortcomings, such as the boring, radio-aimed “Club Aquarius” from Tree and Dow Jones. The strengths of Art of One Mind are in the compiled guests, who push the album into scattered and interesting directions.